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Markets avert a tumble

May 23, 2013 at 6:26 PM

NEW YORK, May 23 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes complied with a timeless adage Thursday: What goes up must come down.

After setting a series of record closing highs in a rally that began in the first of the year, when the federal government side stepped the fiscal cliff, markets dropped for the second consecutive session Thursday.

But investors put the brakes on midday losses, bringing stocks up from, dismal to just disappointing.

The sell off some believe is overdue was prompted by comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who said that the Fed might soon "step down in our pace of purchase(s)."

Bernanke was referring to $85 billion in treasuries and mortgage-backed securities the central bank buys each month to stimulate a slow recovery.

The turnaround began Wednesday afternoon in U.S. markets and spread to Japan, where the Nikkei 225 index lost 6.8 percent, dropping 1,062.96 points to 14,564.30.

U.S. indexes looked ready to follow suit, but the Labor Department said first-time jobless claims for the week were fewer than expected. The Commerce Department said new home sales rose in April. And the Conference Board said leading indicators in Germany rose in March for the fourth consecutive month.

By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 12.67 points, 0.08 percent, to 15,294.50. The broader Standard and Poor's 500 lost 4.84 points or 0.29 percent to 1,650.51 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq shed 3.88 points or 0.11 percent to 3,459.42.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,289 issues advanced while 1,801 declined on total volume of 3.9 billion shares traded.

In Britain, the FTSE 100 dropped 2.1 percent, 143.48 points, to 6,696.79. Germany's DAX 30 index lost 2.1 percent, 161.01 points, to 8,351.98.

The 10-year treasury note was yielding 2.019 percent.

Crude oil added 10 cents to hit $94.35 a barrel. Gold dropped $1.90 to $1,389.90 per troy ounce.

On currency markets, the euro fell to $1.2932 compared to Wednesday's $1.2934. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 101.96 yen from 102.02 yen.

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